Nissan has unveiled a new hatchback bearing the Pulsar name, but, as we reported earlier, it will be a Europe-only model for now.
Both the Australian and EU Pulsars share a 2700mm wheelbase, but the European version is longer at 4385mm, whereas the Aussie version is 4295mm long. Nissan boasts that the new hatch is 115mm longer overall than the Golf, with a 69mm longer wheelbase, and has more rear knee room than many larger cars.
Further distinguishing the two Pulsars is their styling. The new Euro-only model sports Nissan's now de rigeur V-shaped grille, as well as surfacing reminiscent of the X-Trail, and head- and tail-lights similar to the smaller Qashqai.
Initially European buyers will be able to choose from an 85kW 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine and a 81kW/260Nm 1.5-litre turbo diesel. Later the same 140kW 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol mill found in the Pulsar SSS will grace the European range.
It's unclear whether the new Pulsar will undercut the benchmark Volkswagen Golf as the company is yet to announce final pricing and specifications. We do know that the car will include safety features such as lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, forward emergency braking and moving object detection.
The entertainment system will be equipped with NissanConnect, allowing it to integrate with select smartphone apps, like Google's Send-to-Car. High-spec models, such as the one seen here, will also be equipped with LED headlights and driving lights.
Nissan promises "high-quality materials" for the car's interior, which features a different dashboard design to the model that's currently gracing showrooms in Australia.
The new Pulsar is based on the modular CMF2 architecture that underpins the X-Trail and various future Renaults, including the next Espace people-mover. The Euro-market Pulsar will go on sale in northern autumn and be produced at Nissan's Barcelona plant.
When the Euro Pulsar goes on sale, it will be Nissan's first Golf-class competitor since the demise of the Almera hatch in 2006 (sold as the N16 Pulsar hatch in Australia).
An official statement issued by Nissan Australia says it “does not currently plan to release the recently announced European-market Nissan Pulsar” and will “continue selling the current Australian-market Pulsar in both hatch and sedan format for the local small car market”.
The statement suggests the company has not completely closed the door on the Euro-spec model, however, and could introduce it to the line-up further down the track.
Adding weight to this idea was Nissan’s global chief planning officer, Andy Palmer, who told CarAdvice last month the brand could not continue to produce two different market-specific small hatchbacks in the future, and admitted that “at some point or other [our small car offering] needs to converge”.
Sales of Australia’s Thailand-sourced Pulsar have been disappointing this year, falling more than 25 per cent compared with 2013 – down from 4282 to 3191 to the end of April.
Its share of the small car segment has slipped from 5.6 per cent in 2013 to 4.2 per cent this year, leaving it in seventh position overall behind the Mazda 3 (15,174 sales, 19.8 per cent share), Toyota Corolla (13,647, 17.8 per cent), Hyundai i30 (9896, 12.9 per cent), Ford Focus (6091, 8.0 per cent), Volkswagen Golf (5962, 7.8 per cent) and the Holden Cruze (5915, 7.7 per cent).
At the launch of the current-generation Nissan Pulsar in January 2013, Nissan Australia’s then-CEO, Bill Peffer, set a conservative annual sales target of 12,000 units, though stated more ambitious longer-term goals.
“I’m not committing to saying we’re going to beat Corolla, but long term we’d like to be No.1 in the segment,” Peffer said.
“This is a killer segment. It’s large, there’s a tonne of product out, but we finally feel we have an offering that will do well.”